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KwaZulu-Natal - A deaf-mute who pleaded guilty to the rape of an eight-year old boy has asked the court for mercy when sentencing him, saying he will not be able to cope in prison.
Siyabonga Dladla, a 23-year-old who was born deaf and cannot speak, pleaded guilty to the rape of the little boy who was attacked near his home in Sobantu on New Year’s Day.
The boy was playing near his home when Dladla approached him and in sign language asked the little boy to follow him.
The boy refused, and Dladla then dragged him to a nearby outside toilet where he raped him.
Dladla’s legal aid attorney, Lauren Marais, and Pietermaritzburg Regional Court magistrate Rose Mogwera yesterday communicated with Dladla through a sign language interpreter who translated court proceedings for him.
Marais submitted on Dladla’s behalf in mitigation of sentence that he was a young man with no previous criminal record and he was therefore capable of rehabilitation.
Following his conviction last week, Dladla was interviewed by a probation officer, who submitted a report to the court recommending a suspended sentence with correctional supervision.
Marais said this would be an appropriate sentence considering Dladla’s disability.
“My client would not be able to cope in prison. He will be victimised because of his disability. It is highly unlikely that he will find the rehabilitation he requires in prison,” Marais said.
Further, she said it was difficult for him to find employment due to his disability. His sole source of income was his disability grant.
State prosecutor Rene Padayachee argued that Dladla – who will be sentenced on Friday – had been convicted of a serious and prevalent crime.
“According to recent statistics, a person is raped ever 17 seconds in our country. Women and children need to be protected by the courts,” she said.
Padayachee said that while the State sympathised with Dladla’s condition and recognised that he had shown remorse for his actions, he should have known better.
“He (Dladla) of all people should have been sensitive to other people, but instead he took advantage of an innocent young boy who is still suffering,” she said.
The boy was still being treated for shock and psychological trauma and was afraid to associate with older boys for fear that he would be violated again, Padayachee said. - Daily News